SC allows deposition of Mary Jane Veloso abroad

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The Supreme Court has allowed the taking of testimony of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso against her recruiters by way of deposition in Indonesia.

This as the SC granted Veloso’s petition and reversed the December 13, 2017 decision of the Court of Appeals that overturned the August 16, 2016 Resolution of the Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court, Branch 88. The RTC granted motion of the prosecution to take the deposition by written interrogatories of Mary Jane in Indonesia.

Thus, the Court reinstated and affirmed with modification the ruling of the RTC and ordered that the deposition of Mary Jane be taken before the Philippine Consular Office and officials in Indonesia pursuant to the Rules of Court and principles of jurisdiction.

Likewise, the Court noted and referred to the SC Committee on Revision of the Rules for its appropriate action the recommendation by the Office of the Solicitor General for the Court to promulgate a set of rules for the guidance of the Bench and the Bar in transnational cases that may arise in the future, where a prosecution’s vital witness in a criminal proceeding is unavailable for reasons other than those listed in Section 15, Rule 119 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure vis-à-vis the enforcement of the accused’s constitutional right to confront witnesses face-to-face.

The Court said that to disallow the written interrogatories will curtail Mary Jane’s right to due process.

The Court held that the RTC did not gravely abuse its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it granted the taking of testimony of Mary Jane by way of deposition through written interrogatories in light of the conditions of reprieve and her imprisonment in Indonesia. It further held that there are compelling reasons to liberally construe the procedural rules and apply suppletorily the Rules on Civil Procedure.

The Court found reversible error in the assailed CA ruling when the appellate court gave due course to the petition for certiorari of respondents Maria Cristina P. Sergio and Julius L. Lacanilao considering that the errors ascribed therein were mere errors of judgment which do not lie in a certiorari proceeding.

Mary Jane, who was neighbors with respondents Cristina and Julius in Talavera, Nueva Ecija, claimed that she was offered by the latter a job as domestic helper in Malaysia. Upon arrival in Malaysia, Mary Jane, however, was informed by Cristina that the job intended for her was no longer available.

She was eventually sent to Indonesia by Cristina who provided her with the plane ticket as well as a luggage for a seven-day holiday with a promise that she will have a job upon her return to Malaysia.

Upon her arrival at the Adisucipto International Airport in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Mary Jane was arrested by police officers for allegedly carrying 2.5 kilograms of heroin inside her lugged. She was charged with drug trafficking before the District Court of Sleman, Yogyakarta, Indonesia which later sentenced her to death by firing squad.

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